Sometimes The Best Thing You Can Do is Absolutely Nothing

We can’t always keep calm and carry on

The roof of my car looked like a tent.

A first responder examined me. “I’m okay,” I said.

Emergencies make us crave control

It was hard watching the remains of my car dragged onto the back of a tow truck and declared totaled at the scene. Now I was in a strange town, hours away from home, and reliant on my credit card for everything. I was going to need a one-way car rental, always more expensive.

“You just need to sit in the dark for a while. Don’t worry about your car. Don’t worry about your job. Don’t talk. Don’t think. Don’t do anything.”

So I did what she said, and it worked. I started to relax. But first I had to acknowledge how awful I felt.

We lie to ourselves about how calm we are

Nobody should drive the day after an accident like mine, but I told myself I didn’t have a choice. For days, I was scared to get into a car. I did anyway. My hands trembled when they touched a steering wheel, but I still turned the ignition. I told myself I was being silly.

We respond to stress and grief in different ways

It’s worth paying attention to what you do when you’re overwhelmed. One of my aunts tends to go out shopping and buy all kinds of stuff she doesn’t need. She mails scores of gifts that nobody wants.

It’s okay to turn off your day and unplug it

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Keep calm and carry on.” It sounds great, just like most of the bad advice out there. Trying to carry on doesn’t work if you’re a mess. And nobody ever keeps calm all the time.

Doing nothing isn’t easy

Idleness goes against everything we believe these days. We’re worried that if we sit still and do nothing, we’ll drown in our own self-talk. We’re so scared of inaction that we’ve given it a fancy name — meditation.

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